Conceptual Paradise

the studio of interest
December 10th, 2009 to January 20th, 2010

Ausstellung mit Stefan Römer (Berlin)

Lecture in the context of the opening
Inke Arns: The Soviet Union as Conceptual Paradise – Moscows “existencial” Conceptualism and Other Oddities

On December 10th, 2009, the Kunstraum of the Leuphana University Lueneburg opens the first public presentation of the exhibition, research and Wiki project “Conceptual Paradise” by Berlin-based artist Stefan Roemer. This project on Conceptual art is a collaboration between Eva Birkenstock (art history), Kathrin Busch (philosophy), Martin Warnke (digital media), and Ulf Wuggenig (cultural analysis), as well as a group of students in the programs of art theory, digital media and culture studies of the Leuphana University Lueneburg. As a broad field Conceptual art is not only characterized to a great extent by textual production, discourse and exchange. It is furthermore characterized by manifold definitions and a plurality of artistic approaches. Reopening the discussion on Conceptual art therefore implies entering a sphere of diverse historical-, neo-, post- or de-conceptual artistic practices.

The starting point of the project was Stefan Römers eponymous film “Conceptual Paradise” (2006). In this intellectual investigation of the field three generations of Conceptual artists were included. In the form of a specific cinematic mode of reflection, the film ( gives insights into the discourses fundamental to contemporary artistic practices such as research, immaterial production, institutional critique, and Internet-based projects. Beyond the sequences used in the film, in a first step the Wiki provides the comprehensive material gathered during conversations with about 50 artists and theorists in full length. Not only the rare film footage but also the transcriptions of all the interviews are made accessible to the general public for research and discussion. As a platform for reviews and online exhibitions, the Wiki seeks to inspire further artistic projects and theoretical writings. Hence it is meant to serve as archive, cultural memory and venue for current discussions on artistic as well as scholarly projects. This start-off of a work in progress is intended to lead, step by step, to an international information and production platform for conceptual practices which are no longer limited to the north-western part of the world alone. Appearing in a neo-liberal era this Wiki is furthermore meant to reflect and criticize the conditions of labour in the artistic field in which the initiators themselves are working.

Closely linked to a series of project seminars that Stefan Roemer has been holding at the Kunstraum of the Leuphana University Lueneburg since 2007, the exhibition presents the current state of the Wiki “Conceptual Paradise” which was developed in close cooperation with the students. For this first public presentation, Stefan Roemer developed a specific installation on the issue of the studio. The artistic studio has undergone several critical discussions since Conceptual artists notion of the “no-studio”. Simultaneously, with the practice of research and the computer connected to the Internet taking on an important role in production, the exhibition space itself is now treated as an informative display. On four large-format banners with texts and diagrams, Stefan Roemer addresses questions related to how the studio functions under these conditions; these texts appear printed on the theme of water lily, which became iconic for Conceptual Paradise. In general, Stefan Roemer aims to (de)construct the now classical definition of Conceptual art, namely, that visual formulations are secondary. With this in mind, it is worthwhile to reconsider the problematic levelling of the difference between “conception” and “conceptual”.

The opening of the presentation is accompanied by the launch of the lecture series “Conceptual Paradise: Artistic Practice in the Age of the Social Web” with Inke Arns (10 Dec. 2009), Sabeth Buchmann (17 Dec. 2009), Ute Meta Bauer (14 Jan. 2010), Ricardo Basbaum (28 Jan. 2010), which will be continued in the summer term of 2010.

Together with the Wiki and its presentation, the intention is to encourage further reflections on the epistemological foundations of artistic production in a cultural context by relying on various forms of practice such as online exhibitions, study groups, conferences, and new forms of discourse.

The artist Stefan Roemer follows a discursive practice of intervention in the field of contemporary art. In the historical phase of the so called reunion of the two Germanies in 1989 the streets in this country were dominated by right-wing raids against migrants. Invited for a gallery exhibition in Cologne (1992) Stefan Roemer reacted to this situation by initiating the activist project »FrischmacherInnen« (freshmakers), in founding a transdisciplinary group of participants from different cultural fields (activists, artist, journalists, cultural scientists etc.). The group appeared only via public activities which were promoted by a virtual logo. Throughout the 1990s this group was the basis for Stefan Römers artistic intervention into urbanism and populism with different media. Furthermore this group became a relevant though anonymous cultural structure intervening into the Cologne art scene with film- and lecture series, street demonstrations and performances. Drawing the consequences from this experience, he developed the term «Ambient» for the newly capitalized and privatized «public sphere» aiming to expand the concept of the «white cube» as the ideal space for presenting art. Promoting these ideas he considers writing as an artistic epistemological practice.

Besides, Stefan Roemer reflected the notion of «authenticity» as well as the concept of the «original», their symbolic power and ideological implications for the institutional construction of the figure of the artist and the artwork. Thus in his theory book «Artistic Strategies of the Fake – A Critique of Original and Forgery» (2001) he formulated a deconstruction of the art institutional basis of the original.

With his re-reading of conceptualisms – like in his essayfilm «Conceptual Paradise» and the correspondent wiki-project – Roemer not only attempts to question the predominant reception of Conceptual art as an artistic production which surpressed visual strategies, but in conceiving a different model of relations of word/image- and practice/theory in art; Roemer as well tries to establish a deconstructive artistic «theory as practice and practice as theory». In this sense, he considers the internet as an extended form of exhibition. Stefan Roemers interest on this wiki-project is to develop an alternative for artistic presentation which is not limited to the physical space.